Be careful of what you might uncover deep within the forest.
I’m really not sure where to start with this one because I absolutely loved every minute of it! I have been a fan of Darcy Coates ever since I read her book “Craven Manor” last summer. There is just something about the way that she writes that can beautifully and so vividly pull you into the universe that she creates on the page. With Coates’ amazing ability to craft a story that sucks you in, I found myself unable to put this book down.
“Hunted” tells the story of Eileen Hershberger, a young woman who, in an attempt to change the way she lives her life, decides to go solo exploring in the massive expanse of the Ashlough Forest. When she finds herself straying from the path, she realizes that navigating through the dense forest is no easy feat--especially when you realize that you are being watched. As night falls, Eileen comes face to face with what has been stalking her through the woods, but five days later her vintage camera is the only piece of evidence that could be recovered from the forest.
Eileen’s brother, Chris, who refuses to let the local police give up the search for his sister, gathers a group of friends to embark on their own rescue mission into the forest. While Chris, Anna, Flint, and Hailey prepare for their trek into Ashlough Forest, Todd, the outcast of the group, decides that he will venture into the forest alone to search for Eileen. As these young adults make their way into the forest, they begin to realize that there is something sinister lurking in the depths of Ashlough, and it’s got its eyes on them.
Meanwhile, local police detective Carla Delago is busy making her way through the piles of work that have built up on her desk. When the Hershberger case lands on her desk, she dismisses it as nothing more than another unfortunate hiking accident, but as new information comes her way she begins to realize that there is more going on in Ashlough Forest than meets the eye. When this case becomes a race against the clock, the pressure is on to reveal the mysteries of the forest before it leads to more tragedy.
One of the biggest things that I liked about this book was the way that Coates jumped between the different characters to create a more dynamic narrative. By switching the perspectives of the chapters, it allowed the reader to experience different pieces of the story that are happening in different places at the same time; you’re able to see Chris and his group running through the forest at the same time as Officer Delago putting the pieces of evidence together. Each chapter is time stamped, and I think that feature really illuminates how time is passing in the narrative while creating a sense of urgency. While I did enjoy the way the narrative perspective was broken up, I also found myself wanting more from a particular perspective, but then I would have to wait 10-20 pages before I could jump back into the action (on one hand I was annoyed by this, but on the other hand it compelled me to keep reading).
The characters are relatable, the fear of being lost for days in the woods brought out an anxiety in me that I didn’t know I had, and the action was brilliant. For someone who is looking for a book that has a lot of adventure, terror, suspense, and mystery, I would highly recommend “Hunted”. This book left me guessing right until the end, but when the pieces fell into place it all seemed to click, and I enjoyed seeing the mystery wrap itself up. I will be honest, I was slightly disappointed in the ending, but not enough to dim my overall enjoyment of the book.
5 out of 5 stars.